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The Shape of Water (2017)
One Of My Favorite Movies Of The Year
"The Shape Of Water" is the new project from writer/director Guillermo Del Toro who brought us Pan's Labyrinth, Pacific Rim, The Hellboy Movies and to an extent The Hobbit trilogy (which gets to much hate). I wasn't a huge fan of Crimson peak, but the Shape Of Water really looked intriguing from the trailers. I sat there blown away by what I was seeing. This is one of my favorite films of 2017. It is unique, original, interesting, intriguing, and weird all at the same time.
Sally Hawkins gives a really great performance in one of the most inspirational performances I have ever seen. her character is mute and has no lines of dialogue aside from a dream sequence, but man does she play this character with confidence. The supporting cast also does a really great job, Michael Shannon of course being the next standout, and no one phone sin a performance at all.
This film has that old school vibe to it. There is a use of a lot of practical effects, and the makeup and hairstyling is some of the best I've seen on film this year. The amphibian creature, if it is motion captured, is seamlessly integrated into the movie that the use of practical effects looks so appealing.
The set designs are also really great. Lots of little details that you have to pay attention to that you wouldn't normally pay attention to. The lighting in these scenes also adds a lot of depth to the movie. There are scenes that are dim for a reason, and some with more lighting for a reason. It is really a great way to use lighting to convey the details of the environment.
This is a story that grabbed me from the beginning. Not once was I bored watching this movie. It kept me engaged and there is so much character development that it ended up making me care at the end. Out of all of the characters that you root for, there is not one single character that you end up not liking.
And if my memory serves me correctly, there is not one scene of exposition in this film. Not one. There are some "hints" here and there as to what is going on in the background, but from what I remember it's not explicitly stated. It leaves it up to you to put together all of the clues and I really like that about this film.
I'm happy we got something original in Hollywood. Everyone craves for something original, and then everyone hates it when something original comes out. It was a nice breath to just see something so refreshing instead of plot threads being retreaded and following clichés that we see in movies nowadays. This is one of my favorite films of the year.
I am going to give "The Shape Of Water" an A+.
Justice League (2017)
Ai Yai Yai. This Is The Best They Got?
"Justice League" is one of the most anticipated for a lot of people. We have all dreamed of seeing these heroes on the screen for an eternity, and we finally have it. The DCEU hasn't had a good track record, and it's no secret that I haven't been too kind to it myself. They're 1 for 4 in my opinion. Now...they're 1 for 5. I went in giving it a chance. I gave it a chance. I wanted to like it. It's the Justice League for crying out loud. But it's just not a good movie. Everything we hated about BvS is in this movie. They didn't listen. They try to add some humor into the movie but it doesn't work, and it's mostly with the Flash. It came across as forced and none of the jokes were funny. It had some tonal issues, mostly it was a movie trying to be dark and serious and twisted but then there are attempts at humor that really throw the movie off its rhythm. Steppenwolf was a lame villain, with a very generic villain plan. His plan involves these three boxes that are portals, and he has parademons and they try to bring about the end of the world and the Justice League has to stop them. Did i mention beams in the sky yet? His CGI is atrocious. For a movie with a rumored $300 million dollar budget you would think the visual effects team would at least try to make it not look noticeable. it was and it was really distracting. And it wasn't just Steppenwolf. They do the slo-mo action sequences, which I haven't been a fan of for a long time, but I understand that is Zack Snyder's style. I had heard about the movie being flawed, but fun. I can say I didn't think it was fun. There were some moments Where I felt I was having fun but then in the same scenes there was something that just took away from that fun. Even if the movie wasn't executed properly, which it wasn't, I wanted to have some fun, and unfortunately I didn't feel as if I did. There is some bad editing and cropping too. I noticed some obvious ADR moments and a lot of the heads were cut off when it came to cropping scenes. Characterization is really thin, the plot is thin, there's plot holes galore thanks to the mandated two hour runtime. This is a band of superheroes that deserves better than what we got. I am going to give "Justice League" a D+.
The Disaster Artist (2017)
A Hilarious Dramedy About The Art Of How Not To Make A Movie
"The Disaster Artist" is a true story based on the making of the notoriously bad cult film "The Room," directed by Tommy Wiseasu. Wiseau is played by James Franco and Wiseau's friend Greg Sestero is played by Dave Franco. This was interesting, because I had heard so much about "the Room" and its cult status as one of the worst movies ever made. The trailer for the Disaster Artist was really intriguing, and I walked out pretty pleased.
This movie has the Franco Brothers and Seth Rogen, and we all know the reputation that comes with them. They make stoner comedies and basically all play the same characters in every movie they're in. That is not the case here. All of those clichés from those movies that we see from these guys are thrown out of the window. It was a nice change of pace and pleasant surprise for all of these guys after watching their work and seeing the same stale comedies delivered to audiences.
I also wouldn't "technically" categorize this movie as a "comedy." It's definitely more of a dramedy with comedic scenes mixed in, but this is because Tommy Wiseau, who is so magnificently played by James Franco in what is probably his best performance to date (yes I went there), is such a weird, mysterious, eccentric, and strange individual that his words and actions and his weird passion to make a movie come off as comedic. It's the more intense drama scenes that really work well within this movie. I will add that the comedic scenes shown the trailer are not the only funny scenes in the movie. There's definitely more humor in the movie aside from those scenes.
My issue with this movie really just comes down to pacing. It took a while for the buildup, and I get it, it's character development and you have to explain the relationship between Tommy and Greg, and that's character development, but it just felt a little too long. There were instances where I was checking my watch and thought to myself "i thought Seth Rogen was in this movie." I would also say that the character of Amber, played by Alison Brie, really didn't move the story forward all that much and I felt like she wasn't needed.
Overall, I enjoyed it. Laughed my ass off in some parts. Both Francos and Seth Rogen for that matter are really good in the movie, it's a behind the scenes type of movie that shows you how not to make a movie. I thought they did a really good job of capturing just how strange and determined Tommy Wiseasu was.
I am going to give "The Disaster Artist" a B+.
Check out my review of "The Disaster Artist" here on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bT5-PfMK180
Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
The Best of The Thor Movies, And Definitely One Of The Best of Phase 3
"Thor: Ragnarok" is the third Thor movie and 17th entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In Ragnarok, Thor, captured on a remote planet and forced to enter a gladiator match against the Hulk, must find a way to get back to Asgard to stop Hela, the goddess of death, from destroying it and bringing about the prophesied "Ragnarok."
To be honest I haven't seen a Thor movie in the theaters. i missed out on chances to see both of them so I was really excited to see this one, despite thinking "The Dark World" is average at best. I was really happy. This is some of the most fun I've had all year.
Thor actually feels like a character in this film. His dialogue feels more real and natural and I think that's because we've seen him adapting to other realms like Earth in previous films. it felt so genuine and I was happy that he used more of his power rather just swing his hammer around for most of the movie. They made Thor a character, someone you could relate to.
The biggest thing this movie has going for it is the fact they took Earth away as the setting. Setting it in the cosmos is exactly what the Thor movies needed, and what should have been done with the second movie. No offense to Natalie Portman, but I'm glad she didn't come back. The story didn't call for it and she wasn't needed.
This is a very fun, exciting, and funny film. There are scenes where you are dying of laughter. The action sequences, as always in a Marvel film, are fun to watch. there's a lot of great scenery to go along with those and this is a very colorful movie, which added to the overall visual appeal.
The new characters were very well integrated and really likable. My favorite was Valkyrie, played by Tessa Thompson. She did a fabulous job and the character had more of a wild side to her than I was expecting, and that was a nice touch. Jeff Goldblum surprisingly didn't annoy me. There's only so much of him I can handle and he was handled in a way where he was tolerable.
Hela was a good villain as well. Not the best, but a lot stronger than most MCU villains, a new trend that Marvel seems to be making sure that they are doing. Cate Blanchett does a very good job and looks like she is having a lot of fun in the role. Hela isn't in the movie a lot, but is in it just enough. She's perfectly functional and more menacing than one might expect.
As for issues, they're only very minor. One was the CGI in a couple of scenes was weak, and I didn't really like the character of Skurge. I found him to be kind of bland.
I had a blast with this movie. It is my second favorite of phase 3 and one of my favorites in the MCU.
I am going to give "Thor: Ragnarok" an A. For a more in depth analysis, check out my review on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IlH_5IA1F-U
The Foreigner (2017)
A Fun And Entertaining Thriller. Better Than Expected
"The Foreigner" stars Jackie Chan as a Chinaman living in London whose daughter is killed in act of terrorism. His desperate search to find the terrorists who killed his daughter lead him to Hennessy (Pierce Brosnan), a politician with a shady past.
This is a very different movie from Jackie Chan and I applaud that. I was intrigued by the trailer because it looked like Jackie Chan unhinged, and it practically is. He does a really good job here in a dark, gritty, realistic thriller and it's a thriller that doesn't really venture all that far into the action territoy. He doesn't really get to show off his kung-fu prowess, but more of him getting his ass kicked and fighting in a way that's more realistic than kung-fu. I give him very high praise for that as I thought he did an excellent job portraying a more complex character than we've seen from, one who had more of a tortured past and really just lost his last remaining remnant of his life.
Pierce Brosnan gives a solid performance as well. This might actually be his best post-Bond role and you could tell he was having fun portraying a more villainous type character, someone who you liked then was unlikeable, someone who is untrustworthy and shadowy, but at times understand his viewpoint. He was a bright spot that worked really well.
Martin Campbell directs this movie, who also directed Brosnan in "GoldenEye," Brosnan's first outing as James Bond, and the underrated Mel Gibson thriller "Edge of Darkness." This movie has a lot of similarities to "Edge of Darkness" and those types of movies like "Taken," and "Death Sentence." Campbell does a really great job of staging the action and tension, and proves that he has a real knack for providing realistic thrills when he directs movies not named "Green Lantern." I like watching his work. I think he has a great camera crew, stunt team, effects teams, all of that stuff that goes into the behind the scenes making of a movie, and he shines once again here.
As unoriginal as the movie may sound, it is a bit of a fresh take on the genre. However, with that being said, the first five minutes of this movie were the exact same thing as the first 10 minutes of "Edge of Darkness." To be honest this is basically the same movie as "Edge of Darkness." Both protagonists have their daughters killed, they go searching for answers, their search leads them to to conspiracy theories and political realms. It's basically the same movie unfortunately, and while the first half of this movie sets up a really good story within that familiarity that looks like it'll set this movie apart from the pack, the second half jumps into action movie cliché territory, not always, but quite a bit, and becomes bogged down into how convoluted the plot gets. Basically these terrorists are linked to this guy who's linked to this guy who may or may not know this guy who works for this guy.... it got to be too much towards the end and the movie lost me in some parts with it's political dialogue.
The action scenes though, when they go down, they go down. They are raw, they are dirty, they are realistic. This movie is a bit more violent then I thought it would be, but I still enjoyed watching the movie and I had a fun time with it. I think it's definitely worth another watch.
I am going to give "The Foreigner" a B-.
Check out my video review of "The Foreigner" here on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fUVN59I3WXo
Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
A Very Good Sequel To A Classic But This Film's Pace Sucks Big Red Donkey Penis
"Blade Runner 2049," is the sequel to Ridley Scott's "Blade Runner" from 1982 and "Blade Runner 2049," stars Ryan Gosling as Officer K, a Blade Runner himself who is investigating a mystery involving a child and needs the help of Deckard (Harrison Ford) to help him solve the case.
This movie is a visual marvel. It is a gorgeous film to look at and Roger Deakins once again does a fabulous job in crafting the cinematography for this film. I feel like the cinematography and the production design really go hand in hand for this one, because if one wasn't good then the other would be just as bad, so luckily it seemed like this was an instance where visions for production design and cinematography worked hand in hand.
Everything thing from sound editing to sound mixing and the editing itself in general is seamless. The musical score for this film really resembles that of the original score from the first one., and that was something that I really appreciated.
The performances all across the board were really good, but I would just say that Ana de Armas was serviceable in this, but everyone else, from Ryan Gosling to Harrison Ford, gave outstanding performances.
The same can't be said for Jared Leto, who continues to get shunned by Warner Bros and only has two scenes in the entire 163 minute runtime thanks to misleading marketing, which bring me to my flaws.
The misleading marketing is one. The film's trailers were edited and marketed in a way to make it look like Jared Leto was the main antagonist in the film, and he isn't. He even gets a spot on the poster for his two scenes of work that equal about 8 minutes of screen time. Good job Warner Bros. Keep screwing him over.
Also, this film's pacing SUCKS BIG RED DONKEY PENIS. Jeez Oh crow, this film did not have to be as long as it was. Sure the original had scenes that felt slow, but there were only two or three in the original. In this one, there's about a 40 minute chunk where there is literally nothing going on. What doesn't help is that a lot of the scenes are long, drawn-out, and sometimes really quiet. Now I know what I'm getting into when I see a Blade Runner movie. I'm not expecting action scenes at this point, but my god don't let people be bored out of their minds for a good chunk of the movie.
With that being said, the story kept me interested in the movie despite its slow as balls pacing, and really got me thinking. People will be mad about e film's pacing and will probably be mad that this isn't an action movie and requires a lot of thought, because people nowadays don't like movies that require a lot of thought. *Cough* ALIEN COVENANT (great movie btw) *Cough*
Despite the ever excruciatingly slow as hell pace it's still a very good movie that doesn't act as a setup for another movie for a new franchise, thank god, and I am going to give "Blade Runner 2049 an A-.
Check my review of "Blade Runner 2049" on YouTube so you don't have read about big red donkey penis anymore:
American Made (2017)
Good Performances And Directing But An Excruciatingly Slow Pace And Got Me Bored After Awhile
"American Made" is the true story of Barry Seal, played by Tom Cruise, who was a former pilot turned drug smuggler and become an informant for the DEA in the 1980s. I was really looking forward to this movie since it had Tom Cruise in it, but I was ultimately let down by an excruciatingly slow pace and a movie that felt really rushed. I don't agree with the critics on this one.
I will say this, the movie is very well directed and most of the movie is shot with a hand-held camera, which to me is different for a drama. Director Doug Liman has proved before that he can use hand-held camera the proper way and this is no exception.
Tom Cruise also delivers an award worthy performance. This is him unhinged, and probably the best I've ever seen him. You could even say he's on Cruise control.
The rest of the movie just fell really flat for me. This film has really poor pacing, as it felt both rushed and a lot longer than it felt. There are a lot of time jumps and it really doesn't give the film a chance to breathe. There is really no intro tot he film as well, which I know there are other movies out there that just jump right into the thick of things, but I felt I needed some more background information as to what the situation was and who the character was. There was no emotional tug at the heartstrings in this film for me.
This movie's lack of a musical score also made the film feel a lot longer than it was. Sure there is a soundtrack in the background in some scenes, and I'm not expecting some epic, blockbuster musical score to go with a movie like this, but the films I find slow are the ones with a lack of musical score at most times.
I am going to give "American Made" a C.
Check out my review of "American Made" on YouTube for a more in depth analysis:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iw4ddqed5VE
Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017)
Definitely Not As Good As The Original But Still Really Fun
"Kingsman: The Golden Circle" is the sequel to the 2015's surprisingly good hit action film "Kingsman: The Secret Service" and brings the cast back to take down former drug cartel leader Poppy who has attacked the Kingsman headquarters and they need to investigate her scheme to prevent a virus from spreading across the world.
I really loved the first film. It was unique, original, and just damn fun. Matthew Vaughn really has that knack. I went in with great expectations for the sequel and walked out really liking it, though I didn't love it.
From a technical standpoint this film looks amazing. Matthew Vaughn can craft great action sequences and film them with a hand-held camera where everything remains in plain sight. His special effects and visual effects teams are spot on in handling such scenes, and the set design is also really cool, especially the headquarters for the Statesman.
The acting is also really good. Colin Firth, Taron Edgerton, Mark Strong, Jeff Bridges, Channing Tatum, and even Halle Berry who I don't even like as an actress turn in really good performances. You can tell they are all having fun with their roles which they should because it's a ridiculous action movie, and I think that really let some of the weaker links like Berry to shine. Julianne Moore is also an actress I don't like, and I did think she was overselling her performance a bit.
My problem with the movie has nothing to do with the technical aspects like direction, camera work, acting, editing, or visual effects. What it really boils down to is the writing and how some story elements are handled.
For instance, it feels like this film is trying way to hard to harken back to what made the original so great without coming up with any fresh ideas of its own. This movie takes everything everyone loved about the first one, puts it in this movie, and makes it bigger by trying to be better. Yeah, it is bigger...but bigger does mean better. An example of this is towards the end of the film when there is an action scene that is trying to replicate the church scene from the first one, except the scale of the action scene in this one is bigger. There were a lot of scenes like that in here and I don't think Vaughn really thought of how to make things better while still being bigger. The villain was also kind of a drag. It was just Samuel L Jackson from the first one, but instead of him it's Julianne Moore. Her overall plan just comes across as ranging from silly and ridiculous to pretentious and overstuffed. That's where the film really falters and at times it does have some pacing issues especially towards the second act. There's some stuff with Elton John that both works and doesn't work, and that switches up the pacing at times.
Like I said, there is nothing wrong technically with this movie. I just think it needed some rewrites particularly with its villain and its story.
Overall I am going to give "Kingsman: The Golden Circle" a B.
For a more in depth analysis of the film you can check out my review of the film on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tooIzhvdbmM
"You'll Float Too." "IT" Earns It Scares And Provides Great Characters And Story
"IT" is an adaptation of Stephen King's novel and focuses on a group of outsiders who are bullied and after discovering a killer clown that is really a monster, they decide to take him down. I was looking forward to "IT" despite not having read the book or seen the original miniseries with Tim Curry as Pennywise. The trailers made the movie look intriguing and I thought that this could be the next big break the horror genre needs. I was very pleased.
Easily the biggest praise of this movie goes to the writing. This movie has well developed characters and cohesive storytelling. The thing I enjoyed about these characters is that they not only deal with middle school problems and bullying, but they also deal with real life problems that everyone in this world has or will face. These characters, in their early teens, also cuss a lot. It made the characters that much more relatable and realistic and provided a breath of fresh air into the horror genre, and the writers actually understood the age demographic and portrayed it beautifully. The story is also really straightforward. There are no crazy, so-called "clever" plot twists that a lot of horror movies nowadays try to include. It was cohesive and easy to follow.
Not only were the kids well written, but the actors that played them were magnificent. There was not a dull performance form any one of them. Everyone is skeptical when it comes to kid actors, but each actor portrayed his character the way a kid should portray his character. Character wise, there was perhaps a little annoyance with the germaphobe kid but that could be passed off because the characters were so intriguing and relatable.
The movies earns it scares too. There aren't any cheap scares either. A couple of "jumps" in the second half, but good jumps. The second half of the movie is full of all the scars, whereas the first half, while still having some screw, focuses more on setting up the characters and the story for the audience while also providing the necessary haunting imagery to imprint in our heads. The way the films opens up, you no there's no holding back with this movie after watching the opening scene.
Bill Skarsgard did a really great job as Pennywise. He was scary, he was menacing, and damn he made me afraid of clowns again. The movie did its job and that is make adults afraid of clowns again.
The movie really boils down to being a horror movie mixed with a coming-of-age drama and I appreciated that. I really like when movies have the balls to go all out like that in a horror movie. Horror movies don't have the guts to pull something like that off (runtime is another thing this movie pulls off really well: 2 hrs. 15 mins as opposed to the average 1 hr and 30 mins. for horror films), and to see something so refreshing and relatable is a breath of fresh air.
I will say "IT" will make my top 10 of the year to this point and I am going to give "IT" an A.
Check out my review on YouTube for a more in-depth analysis here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3LTU525ZHlw
The Hitman's Bodyguard (2017)
"The Hit-man's Bodyguard" is directed by Patrick Hughes and stars Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson. Reynolds plays Michael Bryce, the world's top bodyguard who has to protect a hit-man (Jackson) who has incriminating information about a Russian dictator (Gary Oldman), while trying to put their past differences aside.
Reynolds and Jackson have good chemistry when they are on screen together. Their "hate banter" back and forth is really something fun to watch, as cliché as it might be. There are some funny lines that they have as they banter back and forth with each other, but nothing that was gut busting hilarious. Some of the jokes land, some of them don't. However it was a really solid and interesting pairing for a movie like this.
When people are getting shot and explosions are occurring it's a fun movie...for the most part. When I say "for the most part" I mean this: When the action sequences are competently directed and filmed in a coherent way in which the audience can tell what is going on that's where this movie gains traction and is a lot of fun. When these action sequences are edited pretty poorly and there's too much shaky cam and flash cutting, it sort of becomes a bit of a mess. Shaky cam doesn't usually bother me too much, but it was not done to perfection in this film and when they straightened the camera up after the shakiness has subsided, the picture is slightly out of focus and concentrates on things that we don't have to see.
Salma Hayek was in the movie and while she does have a bit of comic relief, there were some scenes where I just thought to myself "why?" Her character was a bit of a nut case and annoying, but there were times when she went for it with the raunchy dialogue and those times really worked.
Gary Oldman had no purpose being in this movie. His talents are needed elsewhere. First off, he's barely in the movie and second, he tries to portray his villain character in the way Gary Oldman would portray his villain characters in those classic 90s films, and it didn't work. By the time his character decides to actually do something in this movie it's too little, too late.
The audience is literally spooned all of the information needed thanks to almost every other scene in the movie being exposition. And it's always when characters are in cars...just sitting there...talking.
Finally, this movie goes on for WAY TOO LONG. They could have easily have cut out the last twenty minutes of the movie and nothing would have changed regarding the story. Speaking of the story, it does try to get a little too clever at times and becomes convoluted, which this movie didn't need.
This movie can be fun at times for what it is, which is pure escapism cinema. Nothing more, nothing less. During a s stormy night, I'd probably watch the movie if I had nothing else to do.
I am going to give "The Hit-man's Bodyguard" a C+.
You can check out my review of the film here on YouTube as well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gpiLC8aLwQ4